Does trauma impact how we show up in our business or as leaders? Could it unconsciously prevent us from positively impacting more people through the work we're doing?
These are some questions I’ve been contemplating since watching the Wisdom of Trauma movie which portrays how trauma impacts our daily behaviors and habits. (The next online broadcast is scheduled for July 28 - Aug 1.)
Dr. Gabor Maté does a great job of explaining how our past experiences shape our view of ourselves and the world. Ultimately, everything inside our minds affects the actions we take and the habits we form - whether positive or negative.
HOW CONFIDENCE AND SELF-TRUST ERODE AS A RESULT OF TRAUMA
Every emotionally charged event that occurs in your life becomes engrained in your neural networks. Your brain then creates an association between that event and your perception of yourself and others.
If you're continually exposed to a negative, threatening or dangerous environment where you don’t feel safe, your brain makes the association that the world is not a safe place. You start to lose trust in the goodness of human beings. If others hurt you (mentally or physically) - especially at a young age where you haven't built up your resilience yet - you may also lose trust in yourself.
Instead of feeling compassion when you experience pain, you feel blame, shame, or guilt.
All of this leads to a subtle feeling of powerlessness that permeates our day-to-day life. Self-doubt, hesitation, stress, or overwhelm creep in even though we want nothing more than to fully shine our light and help more people.
When we perceive that it's not safe to be ourselves, to express ourselves, to be vulnerable, then every action we take reflects this belief. This subtle fear holds us back from saying what’s on our heart, from sharing our wisdom, from taking risks, from going outside of our comfort zones.
All of this halts growth - not only our own growth, but the growth of humanity as well.
“We create meanings from our unconscious interpretation of early events, and then we forge our present experiences from the meaning we’ve created. Unwittingly, we write the story of our future from narratives based on the past...Mindful awareness can bring into consciousness those hidden, past-based perspectives so that they no longer frame our worldview. Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present.”
- Gabor Maté
HEAL OTHERS THROUGH CONSCIOUS AND MINDFUL LEADERSHIP
Uncovering and healing our trauma is the key to healing the world. Through cultivating more compassion for ourselves and those that might’ve hurt us (because they themselves were hurt), we start creating a kinder world where people feel safe being who they truly are.
So what does this have to do with being a mindful and conscious leader, business owner or entrepreneur?
Business is a tool that we can use to help others by expressing ourselves and sharing our skills. Marketing is a way of letting people know that we can help them.
Trauma-informed mindfulness involves first recognizing that there is trauma and then responding to it skillfully - with compassion and without judgement.
As entrepreneurs, we can apply this to ourselves as it relates to the negative conditioning that holds us back from expressing ourselves, from sharing our wisdom, from shining our light through the business we run or the organization we lead.
Because so many of our beliefs about business, money, and marketing were shaped early on in our life, they often go unexamined.
Perhaps you're working hard to make a greater impact just to feel like you're constantly spinning your wheels. You may feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or simply frustrated that your message isn't reaching more people because you know it could help them.
Yet all of this is an extremely common experience that is often the result of trauma that goes deeper - trauma that has changed how we see ourselves and our power in the world.
As leaders or business owners, we have to continually learn and grow to truly transform lives with the work we’re doing. When we’re not aware of how we unconsciously seek safety in our comfort zone, we prevent ourselves from reaching as many people as we’d like - from leaving the legacy we’d like to leave.
If you desire to have a greater impact in the world, you may not even know that you’re carrying around negative associations or beliefs that make it harder for you to share the amazing talent and skills you have through the services and products you offer.
APPLYING MINDFULNESS TO YOUR BUSINESS AND MARKETING MINDSET
Practicing mindfulness helps you become more aware of the mental narratives that drive your daily life. It can help you notice where your perceptions and feelings stem from and how trauma has shaped them.
Most people aren't aware that most of our fears can be traced back to biology - to the basic survival instinct. This includes our need to belong - our psychological need to be loved, understood, and accepted. We want to feel safe knowing that it’s ok to express ourselves, that we’re enough just as we are.
And that's where trauma often comes in. When others hurt or judge us, it reinforces the fear that we're not safe because we don't feel loved and accepted for who are.
As we go through difficult experiences, we may build up a belief that it's not safe to be our authentic selves - and this can translate into how we show up in our business.
Our unconscious need for approval may manifest as a fear of not wanting to put ourselves out there...not wanting our ideas to be rejected...not wanting to be cast out of the tribe for being different.
Use the 5 sets of questions below to contemplate how safe you feel it is for you to show up as a conscious leader or business owner.
Think about how your past experiences may have left a negative imprint on you as it relates to your ability to express your skills and talents. Perhaps you haven't necessarily experienced trauma directly in the world of business, but other past experiences have likely shaped your beliefs about yourself...which inevitably determine how you show up in your business.
5 QUESTIONS FOR MINDFUL BUSINESS INQUIRY
1) Do I feel like my message is important and could help so many people...but nobody’s listening to me? Why am I not feeling heard?
Is it possible that something in your past caused you to believe that you’re not important? That what you say doesn’t matter? Do you associate being seen and heard as dangerous? Maybe there was a point in your life where you were told to be quiet, to not make too much noise? Or maybe you have a belief that you don’t deserve to be heard?
Maybe instead of expressing yourself, you opt not to share your message and wisdom to begin with...
This is completely understandable because your brain would rather remain in a comfort zone than risk potential rejection. But the beautiful thing about mindfulness is that it helps you notice this pattern so you can work on overcoming it for the benefit of others.
2) Am I hesitant to promote my services and offerings because I don’t want to appear flashy or self-promotional...even though I know they will help people?
The fear of what other people think can stop us from sharing our knowledge and skills - whether it’s through a social media post, an email, a webinar we host or an amazing product, service, or event that we put together.
If a past trauma has led us to believe that we're not good enough, smart enough, or that others will always judge us negatively, this can manifest as what's often referred to as impostor syndrome.
We’re worried that perhaps we don’t yet know enough to consider ourselves an expert or a teacher on a certain topic...so we don't express our knowledge to begin with. Perfectionism and procrastination unfortunately keep so many wise souls from helping more people!
3) Do I ever feel like I'm helping so many people on a deep level but never feel like I'm earning enough money to compensate the time and effort I put in?
If this is the case, look deep into your beliefs about money. Did you perhaps get the message that money is evil when you were growing up? Or that people who do good things shouldn’t ask for money? That people who make good money are bad or only earn it through dishonest means? Or that there aren't enough resources for everyone?
Limiting money beliefs can cause you to unconsciously sabotage yourself. If you don't want to be the "person who makes great money," you're going take actions that follow that belief - whether by undercharging for your services, not asking for what you're worth, or not promoting the value and quality of your work enough to help more people.
This then prevents you from earning the money you need to impact more lives. Each dollar can be used to reinvest into the business...to hire someone to help free up your time or do the things you don't enjoy or don't know how to do.
Each dollar can be used to let more people know about your offerings so that you can help them on a deeper level. Each dollar can be used to contribute to your favorite causes - and that's why it's sooo important for you to be ok with receiving what you're worth, kind soul.
4) Am I worried that I can’t promote my services while showing up as my true and full self?
Perhaps you’ve been told that you have to conform. Maybe there’s a deeper fear that if you speak your truth, you’ll be shunned for not being like everyone else. Maybe there's a past trauma that led you to associate expressing yourself authentically with punishment.
Marketing your business requires you to be vulnerable - to show up fully - even despite your fears of being judged, of not everyone liking what you have to share. Being vulnerable and expressing your truth isn’t always easy. But fierce compassion and courageous action sometimes requires us to do just that.
The key to helping more people is acknowledging that you won’t be able to help everyone - that means you don’t have to be liked by everyone. If you associate speaking your truth as not being safe, you’re not going to be able to authentic in your marketing...and that’s going to keep you from marketing yourself.
5) Do I ever feel like no matter how much I work, I'm not getting enough results?
Did you previously work in an organization or business where the “hustle” was the standard way of life? Where no matter how many goals you met, it was never enough? You might now associate business with overworking.
As a result you stretch yourself too thin and never feel like what you’re doing is enough - even though you’re probably impacting many more lives than you think. This can be traced to even deeper patterns and traumas that left you feeling like you're not ever doing or being enough.
It could also be a result of old patterns of scarcity thinking where you're worried about investing your time or resources into your business for fear that they won't work. When you come from a mindset of abundance and let go of the fear of investing in yourself, you give yourself permission to try new things that could help you work smarter, not harder. Having a clear plan and strategy helps you let go of the hustle so you can work from a place of calm and trust.
HOW TO USE THE WISDOM OF TRAUMA TO SHOW UP FULLY IN YOUR BUSINESS
“We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.” - Gabor Maté
As you use your business as a means to touch more lives, you will inevitably encounter mental patterns that might be challenging. Here are the 3 things you can do now to prepare so you're always ready to keep making a difference:
Examine your beliefs about business and marketing
Notice when they come up in day-to-day life
Replace them with positive beliefs that lead you to more empowered actions
When you feel fear or hesitation about doing something in your business that you intuitively feel would help others, take a moment for a mindful pause.
Feel your feelings without judging yourself for them. Notice the thoughts that are running through your mind and ask yourself where they came from. Are they actually your beliefs or are they a result of past trauma or conditioning?
Recognize that simply by noticing these limiting beliefs, you have the power to change them. You can replace them with more empowering beliefs that will get you excited about doing the work you need to do to have a greater impact on the world.
Make it part of your daily practice to continually seek inspiration and uplevel your marketing, business and mindset.
Notice how much “selfing” - a focus on your own needs - can occur when you think about your business. Now see if you can flip this to an even stronger focus on those that you want to help.
Rather than doing business from a consciousness of scarcity and lack, you're now doing business from a place of love and abundance. And that's what mindful leadership and conscious business is all about.
Addressing trauma isn’t easy, but the more we can bring our issues out into the light, the easier it becomes to face and embrace them so that we can keep touching more lives.
Want more ideas on how to grow your impact with your business? Get more clarity by giving yourself a day to do an Impact Retreat - learn more and download your free Impact Retreat workbook here.
Now go out there and shine your light beautiful soul. I believe in you!